LT Lift­back changes with times

Whanganui Chronicle - - Driven.co.nz -

It was an in­ter­est­ing week­end. I was watch­ingV8 Su­per­cars tear­ing over Mt Panorama in the Bathurst 1000 and in the drive­way was parked a Holden Com­modore.

Bathurst is a mo­tor race that Holden has been an in­te­gral part of. But while the petrol-head­ers were in their heaven, and our test car was a Com­modore sedan — called a Lift­back to be pre­cise — this one is dif­fer­ent in a key re­spect. Our LT Lift­back was pow­ered by a 2-litre four-cylin­der diesel en­gine. So re­al­ity check No 1 — a Com­modore sedan with­out a V6 or V8 mill. Not a ute or SUV but a fam­ily car.

Hard core Holden fans will be squirm­ing, I know, but time and tide have changed for the Holden brand. Pro­duc­tion has stopped in Aus­tralia and the ve­hi­cles are sourced glob­ally so the new ZB Com­modores are as­sem­bled in Ger­many.

So is the car fit for pur­pose? It takes some time to get your head around the fact this is a Com­modore pow­ered by a small en­gine. Mind you, Holden has dab­bled in en­gines smaller than V8s and V6s be­fore but it was de­ci­sion that wasn’t a rag­ing suc­cess.

But times have changed and de­mands call for dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. You only have to look at what’s be­ing de­liv­ered to motorist in the form of hy­brid and fully elec­tric ve­hi­cles to un­der­stand land­mark shift is un­der way.

But a shift to a 2-litre four­cylin­der diesel is a quan­tum leap for Holden. Then again, while the badge re­mains the same, we need re­mind­ing that the par­ent com­pany (Gen­eral Mo­tors) calls the shots and stop­ping Aus­tralia pro­duc­tion of the Holden brand sig­nalled a ma­jor change in tack was ab­so­lutely cer­tain.

The proof of this pud­ding will be in mar­ket re­sponse and it’s early days to make any call on that. But suf­fice to say plonk­ing a small diesel en­gine into a Com­modore may seem sac­ri­le­gious to some, it’s not an al­to­gether non­sen­si­cal de­ci­sion.

That’s be­cause the Com­modore LT we drove did its job well enough and with pretty good econ­omy. Re­mem­ber, too, that the Com­modore re­mains a very big car in terms of space, both in the cabin and the boot. That boot es­pe­cially is a whop­per and is why the car gets a big tick. There’s heaps of room un­der that big lift­back and fold the split rear seats down and it ex­pands in­cre­men­tally.

And the new shape is pleas­ant on the eye. Those ex­te­rior de­sign cues are sub­tle yet quite rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent to what has gone be­fore. Some looked at our tester and asked what it was and were sur­prised to learn of its her­itage. Over­whelm­ingly peo­ple liked what they saw, which again wasn’t sur­pris­ing be­cause the new Com­modore is a looker.

The petrolengined lift­back gets the nine­speed auto trans­mis­sion while the diesel comes with one less cog. That doesn’t im­pinge on per­for­mance. Holden claims 5.6 litres per 100km fuel use (com­bined ur­ban/high­way) and while we were shy of that mark it still re­turned as­ton­ish­ing econ­omy in our week.

In­side there’s plenty of form and func­tion. The driver’s seat is pow­ered and the tilt and reach ad­justable steer­ing wheel gives plenty of scope. The 7-inch touch­screen is ac­cess a num­ber of the car’s func­tions. The LT gets dual zone cli­mate air along with front/rear park sen­sors, a re­vers­ing cam­era and other safety com­po­nents such as for­ward col­li­sion alert and lane de­par­ture warn­ing.

At $48,990 it’s one of the pricier in the LT fam­ily, only bested by the turbo diesel Tourer (pre­vi­ously known as the Sport­wagon). Both the turbo petrol Lift­back and Tourer are cheaper but the diesel re­turns bet­ter fuel econ­omy (by some 2 litres per 100km).

If you can get your head around driv­ing a four-cylin­der 2-litre diesel en­gined, front wheel drive Com­modore, and econ­omy is high

TECHNO STUFF …

HOLDEN COM­MODORE LT LIFT­BACK Price . . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. En­gine .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Power .. .. .. Trans­mis­sion .. .. Sus­pen­sion .. Brakes . . .. Safety . . .. Size

Wheels

$48,990 2-litre, 4-cylin­der turbo diesel 125kW at 3750rpm, 400Nm from 1750-2500rpm

8-speed auto, man­ual over­ride MacPher­son strut (front), four-link in­de­pen­dent (rear)

Discs (front vented) ABS, EBD, EBD, TCS, ESC 4897mm long, 1863mm wide, 1455mm tall, 2829mm wheel­base

17-in al­loys, 225/55 tyres

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.. THE PROOF OF THIS PUD­DING WILL BE IN MAR­KET RE­SPONSE AND IT’S EARLY DAYS TO MAKE ANY CALL ON THAT. BUT SUF­FICE TO SAY PLONK­ING A SMALL DIESEL EN­GINE INTO A COM­MODORE MAY SEEM SAC­RI­LE­GIOUS TO SOME, IT’S NOT AN AL­TO­GETHER NON­SEN­SI­CAL DE­CI­SION.

on your agenda, then the choice isn’t that dif­fi­cult.

The Lift­back is nim­ble enough around the ur­ban land­scape but as an open road tourer it shows its met­tle. It’s not only com­fort­able and sta­ble; it makes light work of

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the road ahead thanks to that im­pres­sive en­gine and trans­mis­sion. Typ­i­cal of diesel mills, this one isn’t so much about power but rather the torque band. The Com­modore’s en­gine de­vel­ops 400 New­ton me­tres at low to mod­er­ate rpm so it’s not get­ting breath­less. This is a Com­modore that will chal­lenge the purist but it’s a sen­si­ble sedan that shows there are ad­e­quate op­tions to medium to large SUVs and utes.

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